I’m struggling with the kids’ making and leaving messes and not keeping their bedrooms and bathrooms in livable order!!
Also with using so much energy with the rest of the house that my own bedroom and bathroom are neglected.
First, your bedroom and bathroom are your sanctuary and intended as a place for rest, relaxation, and restoration. That restoration includes your relationship with your husband. All too often our rooms are the catch all for every other area in the house. Don’t fall into that trap, work to make your bedroom reflect what you want your marriage and your life to be.
- If you don’t already, begin to make your bed each day and make it lovely and welcoming.
- Take 5 minutes before you leave your room to clean up one small area—one foot at a time.
- If you don’t already begin to put away your clothes instead of leaving them on a chair, or the floor.
- If you intend to wear them tomorrow, get a clothes hook where you can hang those clothes.
- If you don’t intend to wear them tomorrow and they are clean, put them away.
- If they are dirty, put them in the laundry.
- In other words, SET THE EXAMPLE for the way you want your children’s rooms to be by the way you care for your room.
Now for the kiddos, again, set the example yourself. Put up a chart on the back of the door in each room with what it means to have a clean room.
In the bedroom:
- Bed made
- Clothes put away neatly.
- All surfaces including the floor clear of clutter.
- No dishes, trash, or dirty clothes in the room.
In the bathroom:
- Towels hung up (make sure there are enough hooks or towel bars)
- Sink and counter top wiped clean (I keep a stack of white washcloths under the sink and one on the side of the sink—I wipe out the sink and make sure the counter is clean each time it’s used.)
- Dirty clothes in the hamper or laundry
- Toiletries put away—I assigned each of my children a color so I could easily identify what belonged to each of them. Each had a tote for their toiletries. On Mondays when you clean the toilets and check to see what personal care items are needed, ask them what will be needed in the next week. Toothpaste, soap, and conditioner can generally be shared before the teen years when they tend to specialize in what is needed for their beauty regime.
At least once a week dust, mop, and vacuum—maybe Tuesday for Duster Dance Day, Thursday for mopping, and Friday for vacuuming. Then the whole family is in on the activity.
At some point your children can do laundry themselves but in the beginning let them help you. Let them help sort, load, put in the detergent, move the clothes from the washer to the dryer. Teach them to fold beginning with washcloths. Teach them to put away their clothes.
When my children were growing up we set the standard of inspecting closets on Tuesdays and drawers on Thursdays. As I said the other day, you teach them from toddler-hood, first by handing them the clothes and showing them the space where those clothes belong. Then, by giving them added responsibility coupled with increased privilege.
No television, computer, guests, or other entertainment until work including caring for their room and bathroom is complete.
The older they are, the more difficult this will be to get started but stick to it and when they see you are not going to back down, things will begin to change.
Be pleasant but firm. No screaming required. Inspect, don’t expect and don’t let them pull you into any drama.
As far as messes go, in general children are messy. Declare regular pick up times throughout the day. When my grandchildren were small, we would sing the Barney clean up song while we worked. Don’t wait until everything is in shambles.
Make sure there are places for your children to put things away neatly. If there is no clearly defined place to put away their things, those things will end up everywhere and mostly on the floor.
No task is ever complete until everything is put away. When you play a game, use Legos, or put together a puzzle, you will have more success in keeping all the pieces if you put them away when you are finished. Putting things away includes us—put away the vacuum cleaner, take out the trash when the can is full, fill and start the dishwasher, put away cleaning supplies.
Sing, dance, and play your way through your work with them.
Work through your home a foot at a time, and maintain each foot you have worked through.
I hope I have begun to help you combat your challenge.